The Cat in the Hat is the main character of his self-titled children's book, written by Dr. Seuss (real name Theodore Geisel) and first published in 1957. He is a tall anthropomorphic feline with a red and white striped hat, who shows up at a house to entertain two children while their mother is away. His book, written as a response to the ineffectiveness of preexisting children's primers, sold over a million copies in three years and eventually became what Publishers Weekly considered the ninth best-selling children's book of all time. After his first book was published, the Cat reappeared in a 1958 sequel; a 1971 animated musical TV special; a 2003 live-action film, where he was played by Mike Myers; and as the narrator of Seussical the Musical.

History with the Macy's Parade

The Cat in the Hat made his Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade debut in 1994, being sponsored by Random House Children's Publishing. The balloon was designed by the master artisans at the Macy's Parade Studio, with close supervision by the late Dr. Seuss' widow, Audrey Geisel.[1]

The 59-foot tall balloon featured the ever-iconic Cat in the Hat taking flight in a wacky "Seuss-mobile", adorned with a trusty umbrella and a stack of books. The Cat's famous chapeau measures over two stories tall, and wears a bow tie that is 16 feet wide.

In 1995, the Cat in the Hat was named Macy's Holiday Ambassador. To coincide with this special event, a walk-around version of the The Cat in the Hat rode atop the Herald Square Express float, leading the line of march. Additionally, a cold-air inflatable was placed on Macy's 34th Street marquee, which greeted shoppers during the busy and bustling holiday shopping season. A specialty plush toy was also sold at select Macy's department stores across the nation.

In 1997, the Cat in the Hat would be involved in what is described as the worst accident in Parade history. Wind gusts had heavily affected that year's Parade, leaving many balloons to be damaged and later removed from the lineup. At approximately 10 a.m., sustained winds measured 26 mph with gusts reaching upwards of 40 mph.[2] Later testimonies would reveal that the Peter Rabbit balloon had previously hit the lamp post. While passing through an intersection located at 72nd Street and Central Park West, the Cat in the Hat balloon struck a lamppost on the northeast corner, causing the horizontal metal arm to break off.[3]

The 100-pound light fixture injured four spectators. Police identified the two more seriously injured spectators as Maria Clohessy and Kathy Coronna. The two other spectators suffered bruised cheeks. The worst injuries were sustained by Kathy Coronna, with the accident landing her in a coma that would last for nearly a month. To prevent any similar accidents from happening, the Cat in the Hat's namesake piece was deflated. The balloon continued along the Parade route, and finally limped away at 36th Street.

Coronna would later sue Macy's, the city of New York and the lamppost's manufacturer for $395 million. The suit claimed that Macy's was careless, reckless and negligent in its operation of the 1997 parade and disregarded the dangers to the public. [4] The suit was later settled for an undisclosed amount in 2001.

Following the incident, new rules were implemented to allow for future safer Parades. Restrictions included the balloon sizes being limited to 70 feet tall, 78 feet long and 40 feet wide. The balloons would also be equipped with more handling lines and two utility vehicles serving as an anchor and guide. A wind threshold was also put in place, claiming giant balloons could not fly if sustained winds reached 23 mph and gusts reached over 34 mph.

In early 1998, five balloons were permanently retired from the Parade due to them being to big, too awkward or, in the case of the Cat in the Hat, "inappropriate," as a Macy's spokesperson put it.[5] Despite the balloon's permanent retirement from the Parade, the balloon was last confirmed to exist in the Macy's Float Warehouse in November 2016.[6]

See also


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